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'God help me, please': Woman speaks out after off-leash dogs attack her, police search for owner

Anita Browne, 54, says she was attacked by two dogs in Etobicoke on Wednesday and is grateful she is still alive. (CBC - image credit)
Anita Browne, 54, says she was attacked by two dogs in Etobicoke on Wednesday and is grateful she is still alive. (CBC - image credit)

A Toronto woman says she is grateful to be alive after she was attacked by two unleashed dogs in Etobicoke on Wednesday evening.

Anita Browne, 54, said she was bitten on her face and her arm as she stood waiting for a TTC bus in the area of Martin Grove Road and John Garland Boulevard before 8:40 p.m. Her right arm was broken in the attack.

"I have to say, thank God I'm still alive," Browne told CBC Toronto on Friday.

Browne was left with 12 stitches to her face, numerous stitches to her upper right arm, where she says one dog left a hole, and her lower right arm is now in a cast. She was hospitalized overnight on Wednesday.

There was no owner nearby when the attack happened, she said.

In a news release on Friday, police said Brown suffered serious, life-altering but non-life threatening injuries. Police said they are seeking the dogs and their owner out of concern for public safety.

Toronto police released this security camera photo in an effort to track down the owner of two dogs after a woman was attacked in Rexdale earlier this week.
Toronto police released this security camera photo in an effort to track down the owner of two dogs after a woman was attacked in Rexdale earlier this week.

Toronto police released this security camera photo in an effort to track down the owner of two dogs after a woman was attacked in Etobicoke earlier this week. (Toronto Police Service)

Browne said she had just gone to the store and was waiting for a bus, when she heard something behind her. She turned around and saw the dogs loose.

"I'm like, 'OK, what's going on here, where are the owners?'" she said.

'Thank God I'm still here'

One dog went out into the street then came back on the sidewalk, she said. Then, she found herself between the dogs. They began to growl and Brown says she tried to swing her shopping cart at the dogs to protect herself. Both came at her, one biting her head, with the other grabbing her arm, she said.

She stumbled to the ground, where she says one of the dogs jumped on her. She tried to cover herself with her jacket and one dog continued to pull her hair as she screamed.

A woman passing by in a van stopped nearby and asked Browne if she could get up off the ground and make her way to the vehicle.

Browne said she got onto her knees, gathered some strength and told herself: "God help me, please."

"Be strong," the woman told her.

Both dogs continued to attack her as she staggered over to the vehicle, she said.

Once inside, another woman in the vehicle gave her tissues and the first woman called 911. They waited until police arrived. Toronto paramedics took Browne to hospital.

Dogs in attack
Dogs in attack

Police released this image of the two dogs that attacked a woman in Etobicoke. (Toronto Police Service)

Two days after the attack, Browne says she is still suffering.

"Right now, I'm in a lot of pain, but otherwise I'm OK. Just my arm, it's broken. It's paining in the night. Last night, I didn't have a good sleep. But I'm hanging in, I'm fighting in, holding on," she said.

"Sometimes, I sit, I cry. It could have been worse but thank God I'm still here."

Owners should be in control of their dogs, police say

Const. Victor Kwong, spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service, said the actions of the woman in the van saved Browne.

"When we arrived on scene, we actually found the woman in the back seat of a Good Samaritan's car," he said. "At minimum, it saved this lady from further attack."

Man believed to be dog owner
Man believed to be dog owner

The dogs' handler is described as male, 20 to 30 years old, with a dark moustache and beard. He was seen wearing a black hooded vest, green sweater, beige or white pants, hiking shoes or boots, black toque. (Toronto Police Service)

In the release, police said another person followed the dogs after the attack and saw them attack a cyclist, attempt to attack a resident in his yard, and finally, attempt to attack a TTC Wheel-Trans operator, who was able to close the vehicle's doors in time.

"Investigators are requesting the public's assistance identifying the dogs and their owner as there is a concern for public safety," the news release reads.

Kwong said police are hoping that if they can identify the dogs, they can find the owner. He said the onus is on the owner to keep control of their dogs to ensure they don't pose a threat to public safety.

"Any owner should be in control of their dog, whether it be a pit bull terrier or a Chihuahua," he said.

Browne too said she would like to tell the owner to keep the dogs under control and to keep them muzzled.

Dog in attack 1
Dog in attack 1

Police released this image of one of the dogs that attacked a woman in Etobicoke. (Toronto Police Service)

Officers have canvassed the area and some residents have told police that they recognize the dogs from the Jamestown neighbourhood.

The dogs' handler is described as male, 20 to 30 years old, with a dark moustache and beard. He was seen wearing a black hooded vest, green sweater, beige or white pants, hiking shoes or boots, black toque.

The dogs are black and white in colour with larger builds. They are described as "possibly" pit bull terriers or a similar breed.